SOMEBODY mentioned on Radio 702 the other day “how neurotic” the apartheid government was – especially towards the end. Ah yes. I remember that day in 1987 when an Irish woman threw a tomato at president PW Botha. In the hallowed tradition of African despots he phoned the SABC newsroom with instructions on how it must handle the story. He told them, under no circumstances must they mention “tomatoes”. He then had the woman deported. Let me take you back to that fateful week… “It’s the police,” said my wife, irritably, as she went back to the kitchen to stir the casserole. “They’re at the front door and coming over the back wall.”
The captain who confronted me was in camouflage battle-dress, but I could still see him plainly. I thought of warning him about this.
He said: “I have a warrant to search your garden.” “My garden?” “We hear you are growing tomatoes.” “Tomatoes?” “Without a permit. Tomatoes are now classified as offensive weapons.” “Offensive?” “Lead us to your vegetable garden.” A constable drew a sharp breath as he saw my red and shiny tomatoes.
The captain read me my rights. He was very brief. Twenty camouflaged policemen took up positions. They looked like Birnham Wood arriving at Dunsinane. I tried humouring them by imitating Mr Bean watering the garden but to no avail.
The captain’s eyes fell on my bright red peppers. He drew back, sharply.
He instructed a constable: “Get Armscor on the radio.”
“Why are you rolling out all this razor wire?” I asked.
“Should some of these tomatoes contain explosive somebody’s life could be in danger.” “That’s absurd!” “I am merely quoting what FW de Klerk said after the tomato was thrown at our president,” he said.
A constable was in the lettuce patch trampling my seedlings. I shouted: “Watch where you put your feet!”
The captain took it the wrong way. He ordered a neighbourhood evacuation. It is difficult to say where it all would have ended had not my wife emerged from the kitchen with her wooden spoon and shooed them all away. Super inflation An Australian departmental store places inflatable security guards in the aisles at night – and, in the US, single women buy inflatable “boyfriends” for their cars’ passenger seat. This has prompted me to open a business: selling inflatable politicians.
Are you fed up with those in charge of finance, for instance – and who can’t even add up? Then why not buy your very own inflatable mail-order minister and work off your frustrations on him?
The life-sized model comes with a hidden speaker that responds to your oral questions.
The economy model simply goes “blah blah blah blah”. But at the top of the range we offer a blow-up MP whose voice responder has a 100-word range – 50 more than any living parliamentarians. These are not stuffed dummies like the ones you see in the debating chambers; these are life-like. And you can insult them and punch them and deflate them, producing hilariously rude noises.
The “imvubu” model is black, plump, male or female, dressed in caftan or floral collarless shirt. Sound effects: steady droning sound actually recorded at a Metropolitan Council meeting (R299).
The “Van Jaarsveld” is white or red; fat; jacket and tie; big; grey shoes. Answers “ja nee” to all questions (R299).
The “Leader” – natural position is crosslegged. But, at the press of a button on your remote control, this model springs upright shouting insults. Range of 10 traditional insults, recorded in Soweto or Ventersdorp depending on the colour selected (R399).
The “Backbencher” sits with head resting on chest. Makes little snoring and flatulence sounds when remote control activated. Good conversation piece if seated among guests at your next dinner party (R499).